Snowdon via The Watkin Path
Popular and scenic route up Snowdon that ends with a steep tricky section.
|6.69 km||1021 m||3 hours|
Activivity Type: Hard Walk
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Summits and Places on this Route
Cafe, parking WC.
Scree at top is an accident blackspot..
Parking : LL55 4NR
Quieter than Pen y Pass, but still fills up on good days
Sherpa Buses, infrequent, between Beddglert and Pen y Pass/Betws y Coed.
Snowdon via The Watkin Path
The Watkin Path up Snowdon offers an alternative to the more popular walks from Llanberis and Pen y Pass such as the PYG and Miner’s Tracks. It’s still a very popular path, and rightly so. It provides a variety of walking that none of the other routes to the summit of Snowdon can boast. The Watkin Path up Snowdon was opened in 1892 as a donkey track, but was never truly finished. Of all the official ascents it starts nearest to sea level, from Nant Gwynant at under 100m, and as a result has more ascent than any other direct route, but the Llanberis Path starts off only 50m higher and involves a little more distance. Swings and roundabouts really.
About The Watkin Path up Snowdon
The Watkin Path is without doubt the most scenic of all the routes up Snowdon. It starts off through some ancient woodland before passing a spectacular waterfall and ultimately ascending to Bwlch Ciliau and Yr Wyddfa. It’s a good path and a pleasure to walk for most of it’s distance. However the final eroded scree chute up to the summit from Bwlch Ciliau rather detracts from the path’s overall appeal. However, no other path can boast a Prime Minister, commandos and a Carry on Film among its myriad claims to fame. We recommend a descent via Snowdon South Ridge for the best day out, or Y Lliwedd for a slightly more challenging one! Those seeking a longer walk can descend to Pen y Pass and follow a good footpath down the valley, adding an hour or two to the walk. That has the advantage of passing the cafe and Youth Hostel at Pen y Pass as well as the Pen y Gwryd for some well earned refreshment.
The Watkin Path up Snowdon Full Route Description
1 From the car park, head left along the road towards the start of the Watkin Path. The initial section, through woodland, is on a built path and provides welcome shade in warm weather.
2 The path soon emerges from the woodland, and the wide track now takes a gentle route by contouring around the lower reaches of Cwm Llan. The views towards the waterfalls provide a highlight of this section.
3 At the top of the waterfalls, you’ll spot a new hydroelectric plant built by the National Trust to power its properties in the valley below. Continue along the track, past the old Quarry Manager’s house which is complete with commando bullet holes from WW2. It’s then more history as you pass the Gladstone Rock which commemorates the opening of the path in 1892 by the then Prime Minister – Gladstone.
4 As you approach the quarries, the Watkin Path now veers right as it starts its ascent to Bwlch y Saethau. The summit of Snowdon looks far away from here, and dominates the view from this point onwards. Thankfully, the path takes a well graded route up along a good path which switches back just before you reach the ridge and Bwlch y Ciliau.
5 This is a spectacular location, with views towards Lliwedd in one direction, Snowdon and Cwm Llan in the other. We recommend veering off path a little here if it’s clear in order to take in the view down into Cwm Dyli and Llyn Llydaw. There’s very little climbing on this section, which is good considering the next section. A good path continues just below the crest of the ridge, which can also be walked by the more adventurous, and brings you with little effort to the bottom of the scree path.
6 Now the effort begins. This is as far as the Watkin Path technically goes – with the remaining section to join the Rhyd Ddu path being an unpleasant scree path. It’ll be loose in the wet, dry and best left to the mountaineers in snow. However, it is currently being built into a proper path that should finally complete the Watkin Path nearly 130 years after it was originally ‘completed’. Ensure that you don’t veer to the right towards the South East Ridge where the ground can be steeper. Despite being unpleasant, it is at least reasonably straightforward to follow.
7 You’ll be grateful to reach the junction with the Rhyd Ddu and South Ridge Paths, which you join for the final 50m pull to the summit. The path passes the Hafod Eryri building, which you’ll need to pass and the summit is directly ahead on well built steps that are designed for the train passengers.